Top 25 Best Fantasy Audiobooks
Listening to an Audiobook is a popular way to 'read' a book these days -- especially for those who are always on the move and don't have time to site down and 'read.'
For many (such as myself), Audiobooks are the primary and preferred method of 'reading' a book.
So for the uninformed, what is an audiobook? Pretty simple: an audiobook is a book that's read aloud by a narrator -- usually a professional voice actor who embellishes the text with additional inflection and tone as he or she reads, extracting a whole new level of nuance from the characters and story, depending on how good the narrator is.
Because this 'new' book format is rapidly growing in popularity, we want to bring you a dedicated list of our picks for the Top 25 Best Fantasy Audiobooks. Note that we've had an 'Top 10 Fantasy Audiobooks' post kicking around on our blog since 2012, but it's old, not recently updated, and much smaller in scope than this new list.
So if you are looking for fantasy audiobook recommendations, this current list is for YOU.
Note: An audiobook is read by a talented human narrator and is NOT the same as using software to 'read' the book for you. There is a world of difference between the two. A machine-read book completely lacks the rich layer of life a good narrator adds to a book through his interpretation and voice acting of the text and characters. While there are benefits to using say your Kindle to 'read aloud' your book, this has nothing on a real audiobook that's read by a professional narrator.
Why Listen to Audiobooks?
Because Audiobooks, with the right narrator reading the book, can add a whole new dimension to the story and really bring the story and the characters to life.
Indeed, book characters are, in the hands of a talented narrator, given their own unique voice and mannerism which helps bring them more fully to life in your mind.
Hands down, I prefer the audiobook version to the printed version. The reading experience is much richer when listening to a narrated book vs reading the book yourself.
Listening to an audiobook also frees you up to do other tasks while you listen -- chores, driving, walking around, etc.
If you have never listened to an audiobook before, I highly, highly recommend you try this format out and see what you think. There's a very, very good chance you may never go back to 'reading' a book again!
Almost all new books (and many, many older books) are now immediately released in audiobook form (usually through Amazon's Audible.com) the same time the book is released in kindle ebook and print.
Because of how popular audiobooks are in 2016, a lot of people what to know what are the best fantasy audiobooks.
Audiobooks vs Books
It's more difficult to recommend a good audiobook than a book because you have to keep in mind the quality of narrator as well as the quality of the book. Both the narrator and the book are equally important.
A bad narrator can easy ruin a fantastic book while a good narrator can breathe new life into a mediocre book. So the audiobook narrator is crucial.
However, the best fantasy audiobooks happen when you have that magical combination of a fantastic fantasy tale merged with the perfect narrator. I'm a huge audiobook fan -- in fact, it's the main way I consume almost all the books I read. As such, I've put together the most detailed list on the web for the Top 25 Best Fantasy Audiobooks list. Top 25 Best Fantasy Audiobooks (as of 2016)
You can go to our list below to see my top 25 picks if you want an overview of some of the best. Keep in mind that there is a lot of personal preference to what you may consider a good audio book. I give a few criteria below for what qualities we use to judge an audiobook and some tips on how to get (legal) audiobooks for free at the bottom.
What Makes a Good Audiobook?
Here are a few qualities that define an audiobook and may contribute to how good it is:
1) the narrator's actual voice (i.e. how good the narrator's voice sounds)
2) the type of accent (British or American)
3) the voice acting skill (the unique voices/inflections/mannerisms used for each character by the narrator)
4) the use of a male and female narrator for the gender of each character
5) sound effects added to the narration to increase realism (music, background effects, etc)
A good audiobook narrators must have a very pleasant sounding voice to start with. However, what makes a good narrator great is their skill at using voice acting to bring the individual characters to life through the inflections, voices, and character mannerisms. Great narrators BECOME the characters they read and are utterly convincing.
Not all narrators have this skill.
The type of accent makes a difference (most people prefer the British accent). But there are other qualities as well such as how deep or baritone the narrator sounds. Some audiobooks add additional immersive qualities by having both a male and female narrator narrate the gender specific roles (so the female narrator narrates the female characters while the male narrator does the male voices).
There is also a trend to make audiobooks more like a 'movie in your mind' by adding special background noise effects in key points of the novel. This really adds another dimension. These are often called 'graphic audiobooks' and are a special kind of audiobook.
Best Way to Get FREE Audiobooks
You may be wondering how to get your hands on audiobooks. Specifically, how to get AFFORDABLE audiobooks (the issue with audiobooks is they can be expensive).
Do NOT Pay full price for audiobooks on a website as you'll pay something like 20 to 40 USD for a single audiobook.
1) The Audible.com 2 Audiobook FREE Trail Offer
The best way to get FREE audiobook right away is to sign up for Audible.com two free audiobook deal here.
How This Works: You basically sign up via this link and get any 2 free audiobooks you wish from Audible once you confirm your membership (it takes a credit card, though they do NOT charge it). You are given 2 free audiobooks credits you can use to download any two audiobooks you wish. You have 1 month the cancel your trial, and if you cancel, you keep your 2 audiobooks you downloaded and you are not charged for the membership.
If you like the experience, you can keep the membership and get TWO audiobooks each month for 22 bucks each month. If you can swing it, keep the membership -- it's always nice to have a few credits to buy an audiobook you are waiting for whenever you want. You also get 20 percent off buying audiobooks at the the regular price as well if you need more than 2 books.
2) Overdrive (via Local Library Card)
Short of the free audiobook trial with audible, you may be able to check out FREE audiobooks via Overdrive if you have a local library membership. Overdrove is a app / website that lets you checkout new and old audiobooks from the overdrive website via your library card. It's a great way to get new or old audiobook titles for FREE. However, the only issue is that you may have to wait your turn to check out the book if it's available or your library / region may not have a specific audiobook in stock. It's worth checking out though!
3) Audible.com Membership Discounts
This is not a free method, but if you sign up for audible, you pay each month and you get credits (either one credit per month for 14 USD or 2 credits for 22 USD). Those credits can be traded for audiobooks or stored and cashed in for books later. However, Audible also offers 'deals' on audiobooks where you can buy audiobooks outright for only $7 dollars.